Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 1: March 28, 2012

A view of the moutains we will hike
Well we are off to a bad start. A lack of sleep and unexpectedly heavy packs will burden us for the next 21 miles today. Can't figure out how our pack weights jumped up. We are each at 37lbs after adusting for my hiking partners heavy packing. I was hoping for 25. I think Rusty packed a cast iron skillet and some dumb bells.

My stomach hurts pretty bad still and I have a headache. The only thing making me feel better is driving North to our trail head we are traveling parallel to the mountains and they look much more level than our last hike through the "roller coaster".

We are hitting the trail, late, by at least 2 hours. The first leg leads us gently uphill but my legs are not ready for the demand yet. An hour in I'll get my trail legs and make a solid 3mph.

Our trail head at Compton Gap
We missed our first shelter that we planned on eating lunch at, oh well just forces us to keep moving forward.

I hate my pack. We have never really got along but it was cheap and suited me well for its first outing. Now all the little things that annoy me are coming to head, in a big way. This relationship between us may work for a shorter day, but not when I have to carry it for 12 hours. First off, the suspension is not tall enough for my frame so the weight never rest evenly on me. It's either mostly on my shoulders or drooping off my back. The hip belt lays across my stomach. It also squeaks at every step. It sounds like two pieces of Styrofoam being rubbed together just behind my head. I loath this tumor of a pack.

To top it off we have been beaten by not one but three thunderstorms. Just we crested Hogback Mountain and became the tallest objects for miles, the thunder rocked our bones, flashes all around us, and the icy cold rain pelted us. I donned my rain poncho and put on the joke of a pack cover which fit about as well as a sumo wrestler in a bikini. We hustled to get off the mountain but I'm sure we spent 30-40 minutes atop the ridge. The sky cleared for a brief while and came back for round two. Just for good measure we got our third storm just after sunset.

Water has been scarce. The way stations are closed still, the springs dry, and our final shelter for the eve is a sans hydro one.

We hiked forever it seemed. At times during the uphill sections I would expect it to level out just after that last bend but once I got there my sight was filled with more uphill. It was heartbreaking at times. We hiked till sunset and decided to divert to Byrds Nest # 4. I saw the marker for it claiming 0.6 and a nearby trail so we set off. The sun sank away and we were left in a blanket of darkness. The world disappeared and we were left with 5 feet in front of us light with our headlamps.

We slept on the floor of Byrds Nest #4 on the first night

We finally reached our shelter. Cold, wet, hungry, thirsty, and utterly exhausted. There were a few times when I was ready to simply collapse on the trail and cuddle my pack as I passed out. Upon arrival we found a concrete slab floor, a couple hikers asleep in the bags and much to our delight, a roaring fire. We tossed our pads and sleeping bags on the floor and bid farewell to a long and difficult day.

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